Monday, December 5, 2011

This Christmas...

What else do I want to do this Christmas season?

Well, if you read last years post about how I wanted Christmas to be different, I addressed the opening gifts Christmas morning chaos that we had experienced in the past. I took over playing Santa last year and all was well. Not because it was me handing out the gifts. I think we just really need one cook in the kitchen so to speak. And that cook could not be an impatient child. So, this year, more of the same. I don't mind being Santa again, crawling all over the floor, looking for the next gift. We'll call it exercise.

I would also like to make all of the ornaments that I give out this year. I usually make some.I've gotten into the habit of making my husband an ornament each year. I've already made ones for the boys. They are snowman heads made out of their Grandmother's wool sweater. The rest of the ornaments will probably be cross stitch. I love to cross stitch (sometimes I wonder what would happen if I ever gave my fingers a rest). Maybe after Christmas I'll post pictures of what I made.

I also wanted to get the major Christmas shopping done as close to the beginning of December as possible. I ordered my last gift this morning. Hot dog! I still need to get stocking stuffers, no big deal. ( I lie. We take stockings pretty seriously around here. They overflow into grocery bags. They're to heavy to hang on the mantel. Candy, toiletries, books, toys, fruit, nuts, ornaments, kitchen gadgets....One year I got a new toilet brush in my stocking.)

And, again, like last year, I want to take it slow this Christmas. Not just Christmas Day. I'd like these next few weeks to be enjoyable, not stressful. Everything went beautifully last Christmas Day, this year I'm branching out a little further. Since the shopping is done and can be checked off the list, I'm going to spend a day planning meals, figuring out guests, times and dates for get-togethers, scheduling everything form school parties to ornament making to gift wrapping to cookie baking. My hope is that once Nathanael begins his Christmas break, I'm done! I want to spend that time with my family, soaking them all up. Why? Because my parents leave for Florida on the 27th, Nathanael goes back to school January 3rd and Dave will no longer be taking long weekends off . 

This probably all sounds like what I want for Christmas is a whopping case of OCD. Maybe so. We'll call it Organized Christmas Disorder.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Snowflake Queen

What do you do on a snow day with an old, hand knitted wool sweater and a bunch of even older buttons?
You make a Snowflake Queen! (Duh!)

My mother-in-law gave me this sweater that someone washed in hot water and shrunk. She also sent me a bunch of old buttons she found packed away. My fingers have been busy ever since. I've already made my boys a couple of Christmas ornaments out of the sweater. You'll have to take my word for it that they are cute. 


Let it snow! (Seriously, let it snow. Or she's not going to be very happy.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Advent Calendar

Since I wrote about  my advent calendar, I thought I'd post some pictures of my creation. I made this awhile ago, maybe five years ago. Every time I pull it out of it's box I am re-impressed with my advent calendar. I'm not bragging (I hope). I am just truly impressed with the final outcome that is my advent calendar. I remember having an idea in my head of exactly what I wanted. And I would have been more than happy to buy it if I had seen it out there. I never did, so one year I decided to make my own.

I wanted it to be BIG. BIG. My calendar measures 45" long by 32" wide. I also wanted it to have pockets, big enough for me to put whatever I wanted in them depending on my theme for the year. These pockets measure 5" square. I wanted each pocket to have a different image on it and I needed to be able to remove the number on each pocket. I can't remember how long it took to make this, but I'm sure it's not as long as it seems. I remember taking the little pockets to work with me to work on during slow times (I worked in a fabric store). And, I remember sitting on my sofa in the evenings, watching TV and stitching on the pockets and the backing. Yes, it is 100% hand stitched.

I used to think that maybe I would make ornaments that match what's in the pocket. (Whatever!) I also thought about offering it for sale. For a lot of money. (There's not enough money!) In the end, this wasn't made for any other reason than I wanted something for my family to pull out every December. Something to look forward to. Something to eventually pass on to my kids. Just for us. I love advent calendars (I even made one for the month of October). I'm sure this isn't the last one that I'll make. Wouldn't it be cool to have an advent calendar in every room of the house!!!

With out further ado, my advent calendar...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Is Here

Yesterday, the last day of November, we awoke to a Marshmallow World (cue Bing). Our first real snow of the season and it was our first snow day, too. The way it should be, in my opinion. I think snow days are like found money and should be treated as such. Do what you want with it, it's a gift!

And, now, in the blink of an eye, it's December. Bring on Christmas! Actually, in my house, Christmas has been here, but now it's official. The first pocket on the Advent calendar has been emptied. It has begun!

So, this morning I found myself thinking about how I'd like this month to play out. I had already decided to do something different with the Advent calendar. Usually, there is one piece of candy in each pocket, and each day someone gets a piece of candy from that day's pocket. In the past, if the kids didn't like the candy in their day, they dug around in the other pockets and made an exchange. This year I decided to put three little, bite-sized candies in each pocket. I told everyone that when it is their day to pick, they need to decide with whom and how to share their treats. I'm leaving the who and how up to them. I would just like them to learn to enjoy giving and sharing. So far so good. Asher had today, and he gave a piece to his brother (with whom he had been fighting this morning). My heart swelled!

Other things I'd like to do? Well, I'd also like to make talking about the Christmas story a part of every day this year. From beginning (prophesies and promises), to angel-visits (Mary, Joseph, shepherds), to Happy Birthday! I am going to start tonight, at dinner. I've printed out a few verses from the Old Testament to read to the boys. There is plenty for us to chew on with these few verses that I think I'll take a few nights to talk about them. I would also like to read Luke 2:1-20 to them every night until Christmas. I want this to become second nature to them.

Why? Well, you see, they have a mom who is crazy about Christmas. The snow, the colors, the images, the stories, the food, the songs, the movies, the cookies, the giving, the receiving.... I loooooove Christmas-time. I also love Jesus. Much more than Christmas-time, as a matter of fact. I don't want my boys to confuse anything, about me and my beliefs or about Christmas and Jesus. The best part about Christmas is that we get to celebrate that Jesus was born. The rest is decorating and baking and crafting. It's stuff I love to do, eat, listen to, look at, sing, give, unwrap, and so on, and so on.

I hope my boys will always love this time of year. I hope they will always have wonderful memories every time December rolls around. I hope that they will be able to share some of things we do today, with their families someday. I also hope, more than anything else, that the common, thread, theme, song and thought will be Jesus.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's Next... Penelope

I am doing a series of portraits of the women from Homer's Odyssey. I have already done Circe, the sorceress/goddess who liked to turn men into animals. Now I am working on Penelope, Odysseus' faithfully, waiting wife.

Sketch first. I wanted to show her waiting, because that's what she did. And, somehow, I'd like to show her attachment and love for O. I've got a few ideas. After the sketch I picked out colors and fabrics and began cutting and pinning.

The reds and pinks were chosen to show her ardent love and faithfulness to her husband. The blues (there will be more blue showing up) are to symbolize her sadness because she misses O and sometimes wonders if she'll ever see him again.

Penelope is a bit of a change up from my usual creepiness, a refreshing change up. But not for long.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Christmas Decorating- The Master Bedroom

That's right! I am finished with the master bedroom. I cleaned it yesterday and decorated it today. I always start with my bedroom (it's my favorite room in the house). I keep the decorating relatively simple, playing off of what I already have in there. Here it is...

Next I'll be tackling the upstairs hallway and the upstairs bathroom. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Christmas Planning Begins

As I alluded to yesterday, I am ready for Christmas!

Well, that's not quite right. I am ready to get ready for Christmas. Yes, that's better! I am ready to get ready. Ready?

So, each year I strive to get a bit more organized. Not that I 'm not organized. It's just that I am also a procrastinator. An Organized Procrastinator. Who loves making lists. Who love-loves crossing things off lists. There you have it!

Anyway...the other day I decided to make myself a new Christmas planner. I hemmed and hawwed over just how to make it to suit all of my list making needs. Well, there just isn't a planner big enough. So, I made two!

The first planner is a binder (red and white, of course) that I divided up into a Nov/Dec month-at-a-glance section, a day by day section, a meal planning section and a project/decorating/cleaning section. I also have folders for patterns for gift making and a folder for catalogs and Christmas-themed magazines.  It is basically an organized notebook to help me keep my thoughts and notes...organized.

The second planner is strictly for gifts; wish lists, shopping lists, coupons, receipts. Wanna see it?

Do you love it? I had seen these little planner/journal things in magazines before. They are made out of a file folder! I did a search for directions on how to make one and...volia!

I wanted something smaller for my gift lists so that I could take it with me when I shop. I also wanted to be able to hide it easily from various prying, blue eyes.

 It opens to four pocket sections; one for gift ideas/info and one for coupons and notes...

...and one for shopping lists and one for receipts.

What's next? Cleaning, of course! All signs of Halloween have been eradicated. Now it's time to clean, clean, clean. To Christmas music! ;)

*The lists are from here. Ideas for making and decorating the planner were found here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's November... know what that means? Time to decorate for Christmas!!!

Call me crazy, I don't care! You know what I did yesterday? I put on Christmas music and backed away all of my Halloween decorations. Yes, I said Christmas music.

What's next? As any good elf knows, it's time to make some lists. Not just gift lists either. That's what I've been doing today, making lists. Cleaning, decorating, gift making, decoration making lists. Because I like to make list almost as much as I like to decorate for Christmas.

Are you getting ready for Christmas yet?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

When my sweet boy, Nathanael, came to me and said he wanted to be a Vampire for Halloween...I never felt so proud! Finally a chance to to convert one of my sweetest creations into something a tad creepy (minus the sewing). And what a Vampire he makes!!! There's only been one, minor hic-cup....

That's right! No teeth!!! I mean, seriously now. How effective is he going to be?!? And the freckles! I've never had to work so hard, covering up those freckles. Eek! Actually, as I sit here, staring at his adorable face, I'm feeling inspired... Halloween 2012, look for a portrait of a toothless vampire! In the meantime...
Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 26, 2011

How was your weekend?

Mine went by in bit of a whir. Nathanael had his first sleepover at a friends house Friday night. I didn't go to get him until two o'clock which made the day feel like a week day, when Nat. is at school. It seems that, more often than not, I haven't a clue as to what day of the week it is. It is getting better now that school has started again but soon they'll be sure to throw a Monday off at me and I'll be all mixed up again.

Last week I was commissioned to make a custom portrait for a lovely lady who contacted me through etsy. She was interested in Romeo and Juliet and, because the originals are not available, I got to do a little re-imagining. So Saturday I sat down with my sketchbook and here is what I came up with:

We decided on one large portrait with both Romeo and Juliet, same timing as before- Juliet discovering Romeo dead.

Sunday was nice and easy going. It was a blah fall day but my boys made the best of it. At one point, I saw Nathanael raking leaves into one pile while Asher sat on the hood of Dave's car picking off the leaves that had collected there. Next thing I know, they're yelling for me to bring out the camera....

It's like a cheesy-grin-a-thon!

Friday, September 23, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

So, earlier this summer I heard from a man who was going to be opening a gallery in Charlotte, NC. He said he had come across my work on-line and liked it and wanted me to send him a few pieces to sell there. I expressed my interest (read: freaked out) and a bit of concern because, at the time I had a couple of shows I was preparing for. In the end, he suggested that I send 1-3 pieces as soon as possible for the craft gallery and then he would schedule an exhibit of my work for the month of October. (!!!!!!!!!)

In case you've been wondering what I have been doing with myself...there you go! I've been sewing and framing and packing and mailing. And printing. The owner of the gallery (Plaza Muse is the name, check out there website) suggested that I make my little ACEO's into greeting cards. Brilliant, no? I think they look pretty good so, as I continue to get my butt in gear, I'll get them up on etsy for sale.

I've also been getting back into the school routine with  Nathanael and spending lots of time with my parents. My folks got here (from Florida) around July 7th and they won't be going back until December 28th but, boy, does this time just fly! I wish they could be here all the time but I've got Michigan weather working against me.

I would really like to get back to blogging and facebooking and I still need to figure out twitter. So now that, as of yesterday, I have mailed out the last box of creepies for NC I am going to re-enter society. :) So much has been changing in the world of social networking! Oy!

While I re-acclimate, enjoy some pics of the portraits that I made for Plaza Muse...

 This is "Frankenstein's Monster". Do you love the hair?

 And, this is "The Monster's Bride". Again with the hair! I just love looking at her. The look on her face, those red, red lips and the hair. Love it!!!

 And, "Lenore", of course. From Edgar A. Poe's poem, "The Raven". I can't go to long with addressing Mr. Poe. Because I looove him.

 Nor can I go long with out addressing the fabulous month of October. These lovely ladies are "Opal and Calendula, the Misses October 2011". The first time conjoined twins have won this honor, by the way!

 "Virginia". Inspired by Edgar's first love.

And, "Boris" (aka my new crush). If you are a devoted fan of "Young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks (my other crush), that daisy is for you.

And this, this is the awesome announcement for the exhibit!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Would you look at the rain come down!

Here I sit, trying to get caught up on the many, many things I have neglected as the rain falls and the thunder crashes. The boys are in the living room watching an old, black-and-white movie called "Air Force". The dogs (we are babysitting my parents Shorkie) are hiding under the desk and in the bathroom.

(Just had to make a run around the house closing windows. All done while slipping on wet floors, stepping on frightened dogs and being stepped on by "helpful" boys.)

And, just like that, blue skies! Weird! you can see, I have freshened up the look of my little blog here to reflect where I have been, and will be, creatively speaking. Halloween!

I have been doing LOTS lately; as a mom, artist and urban farm chick. If I were to catch you up on everything now, we'd be here a loooong time. I'll fill you in little by little  over the next week or so. In the meantime...

...a wee sneak peak!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Boys of Summer
The song "The Boys of Summer" (by the Ataris, not Don Henley) was playing on the radio when I happened to look out the window to see these little cuties loitering in my driveway. I figure it was a form of divine intervention, grabbed my camera and asked them to strike a pose. Can't you practically hear the "cheeeeese"?!
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